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Choosing "a SQL" or "an SQL"

When I say SQL outloud, I vary how I pronounce it depending on the
audience and my mood.  I think that SQL Server and Oracle folks say
"sequel" while MySQL folks and those using the term related to industry
standards or separate from any particular tool are more apt to
pronounce it "es-q-el."    Is this accurate?  How do DB2 folks say it?
What other groups pronounce it which way?

I'm starting to write and am trying to figure out whether to write "a
SQL statement" or "an SQL statement."  I get 1.96 million google hits
on an-sql and 2.3 million on a-sql.  Are there any good guidelines for
when to use the one and when the other?  Thanks.  --dawn

0
dawn
2/7/2006 3:18:34 AM
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"dawn" <dawnwolthuis@gmail.com> wrote in message 
news:1139282314.858901.194140@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
> I'm starting to write and am trying to figure out whether to write "a
> SQL statement" or "an SQL statement."

I worked during 1997-1999 as the Manager of Technical Publications for 
InterBase.  I had this discussion when I was producing the InterBase 5 
manuals, because my writers and I wanted to establish consistent usage 
throughout our writing.  My senior technical writer held a degree in 
Linguistics as well as many years of professional experience as a writer.

We observed that the usage "an SQL statement" was arguably more correct 
since SQL is an acronym.  However, it seems to be more often colloquially 
used as "a SQL statement," where SQL is pronounced like "sequel."

Since we were writing product manuals where we used less formal language 
(for example, using the second person "you," contractions like "can't," 
etc.), we decided to go with the colloquial usage.  If we had been writing 
scientific journal articles, we might have chosen to pronounce it as an 
acronym.

Many acronyms are correctly pronounced as words, instead of spelling out 
their letters.  For examples, SCUBA, LASER, SCSI, and WYSIWYG.  Other 
acronyms are never pronounced as words, and are always spelled out:  TNT, 
CIA, IDE, and RTFM.

I would say in the case of SQL, both usages are correct and common enough to 
be understood easily by most audiences.  Which one you choose depends on the 
tone you are trying to set in your writing.

In the case of MySQL, they have an official policy of pronoucing the name by 
spelling out the letters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysql#Pronunciation).

Regards,
Bill K. 


0
Bill
2/7/2006 3:56:18 AM
Bill Karwin wrote:
> "dawn" <dawnwolthuis@gmail.com> wrote in message
> news:1139282314.858901.194140@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
> > I'm starting to write and am trying to figure out whether to write "a
> > SQL statement" or "an SQL statement."
>
> I worked during 1997-1999 as the Manager of Technical Publications for
> InterBase.  I had this discussion when I was producing the InterBase 5
> manuals, because my writers and I wanted to establish consistent usage
> throughout our writing.  My senior technical writer held a degree in
> Linguistics as well as many years of professional experience as a writer.
>
> We observed that the usage "an SQL statement" was arguably more correct
> since SQL is an acronym.  However, it seems to be more often colloquially
> used as "a SQL statement," where SQL is pronounced like "sequel."
>
> Since we were writing product manuals where we used less formal language
> (for example, using the second person "you," contractions like "can't,"
> etc.), we decided to go with the colloquial usage.  If we had been writing
> scientific journal articles, we might have chosen to pronounce it as an
> acronym.
>
> Many acronyms are correctly pronounced as words, instead of spelling out
> their letters.  For examples, SCUBA, LASER, SCSI, and WYSIWYG.  Other
> acronyms are never pronounced as words, and are always spelled out:  TNT,
> CIA, IDE, and RTFM.
>
> I would say in the case of SQL, both usages are correct and common enough to
> be understood easily by most audiences.  Which one you choose depends on the
> tone you are trying to set in your writing.

Thanks, Bill.  This is helpful.  It isn't just a matter of formal (an
SQL) vs. colloquial (a SQL)  because some products lean toward one over
the other.  If I write "a SQL" the MySQL folks will find it
uncomfortable (as you indicate below) while with "an SQL" the Oracle
folks get bent out of shape (past experience suggests).  So the choice
seems to align the writer with a vendor or vendors.

Does anyone know what DB2, Informix, or Sybase users prefer?  Thanks.
--dawn

> In the case of MySQL, they have an official policy of pronoucing the name by
> spelling out the letters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysql#Pronunciation).
> 
> Regards,
> Bill K.

0
dawn
2/7/2006 4:27:37 AM
The name of the Standard is "es-que-el"  and we had a debate on that in
ANSI X3H2.  Sequel was a trademark of IBM.

The rule is that in ISO-speak, pronouncable  words are capitalized like
proper nouns  "Fortran" and initials are spelt out "S-Q-L", "P-L-one".
 The US government makes them all into words PSRO (Physican Standards
Review Organization) is a "piss row" ; that is for real, I worked for
one.  

I tend to let my editor pick a house style when I write.

0
CELKO
2/7/2006 3:48:16 PM
--CELKO-- wrote:
> The name of the Standard is "es-que-el"  and we had a debate on that in
> ANSI X3H2.  Sequel was a trademark of IBM.
>
> The rule is that in ISO-speak, pronouncable  words are capitalized like
> proper nouns  "Fortran" and initials are spelt out "S-Q-L", "P-L-one".

Ah, perhaps that is why people switched from writing BASIC to Basic and
Cobol instead of COBOL.

>  The US government makes them all into words PSRO (Physican Standards
> Review Organization) is a "piss row" ; that is for real, I worked for
> one.
>
> I tend to let my editor pick a house style when I write.

I'm writing for clients (and in my blog), so no publishing house to set
the standards that way.

Thanks.  --dawn
www.tincat-group.com

0
dawn
2/7/2006 11:49:46 PM
In my memory, SQL was first developed by name of SEQUEL(Structured
English like QUEry Language) as query language for System/R. Sorry, I
forgot the developer's name.
Later, it was appeared that the name could not be used by trademark
problem(another product already used it).
If I misunderstood or made mistake, please don't hesitate to point it
out.

(Perhaps I shouldn't say this, but I yielded to temptation) I feel
older people tend to pronounce SQL like as "see-k-well" boastfully to
show their knowledge and long experience in relational database area.

0
Tonkuma
2/9/2006 10:35:04 AM
How big is nowadays IBM? Still very large indeed! Look at internal 
reports from IBM (your company) authored by Don Chamberlin... (Almaden 
Res. Center)) He was member of the IBM System R team and also worked on 
the query language, for that system, named SEQUEL.
Later, the language was replaced by SQL and then by ISO SQL.
All this information is, I suppose, published on internet.
bye
A. Gamache


Tonkuma wrote:
> In my memory, SQL was first developed by name of SEQUEL(Structured
> English like QUEry Language) as query language for System/R. Sorry, I
> forgot the developer's name.
> Later, it was appeared that the name could not be used by trademark
> problem(another product already used it).
> If I misunderstood or made mistake, please don't hesitate to point it
> out.
> 
> (Perhaps I shouldn't say this, but I yielded to temptation) I feel
> older people tend to pronounce SQL like as "see-k-well" boastfully to
> show their knowledge and long experience in relational database area.
> 
0
ISO
2/9/2006 3:01:55 PM
"Andr´┐Ż Gamache" <andre.gamache@ift.ulaval.ca> wrote in message 
news:xMIGf.36085$1e5.634206@news20.bellglobal.com...
> How big is nowadays IBM? Still very large indeed! Look at internal reports 
> from IBM (your company) authored by Don Chamberlin... (Almaden Res. 
> Center)) He was member of the IBM System R team and also worked on the 
> query language, for that system, named SEQUEL.
> Later, the language was replaced by SQL and then by ISO SQL.
> All this information is, I suppose, published on internet.

Yep, here it is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sql#History

Regards,
Bill K. 


0
Bill
2/9/2006 6:00:42 PM
>> I feel older people tend to pronounce SQL like as "see-k-well" boastfully to show their knowledge and long experience in relational database area. <<

You say it like it is a bad thing :)   but get two beers in us and we
say "sequel" like a newbie.

A bit of history: Phil Shaw of IBM brought the SQL-86 document into
ANSI-X3H2 to make it "public domain" at a time when IP law was still
very new and very vague on the ownership of a language and software.
It was much ahead of the curve.

0
CELKO
2/10/2006 3:56:38 AM
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